Depending on who you ask, Georgia Bulldogs senior QB Aaron Murray and LSU Tigers starter Zach Mettenberger are either two of the most frustrating quarterbacks in America or two sleeping giants. Given todays instant SEC classic, I’m happy to choose the latter over the former.
In the thrilling 44-41 victory by Georgia, Murray was lights-out, going 20-34 for 298 yards and a touchdown, looking calm, cool and collected throughout. His leadership of the Bulldogs in the final drive of the fourth quarter that culminated with a 25-yard touchdown pass to sophomore star wideout Justin Scott-Wesley was nothing short of spectacular, and should once and for all put to bed any concerns that his ability to do the same on Sundays in the NFL next season is questionable.
On the opposite side of the field, it’s arguable that LSU’s Mettenberger is one of the nation’s most improved quarterbacks, and is himself starting to turn the heads of NFL scouts. Mettenberger went 23-37 for 372 yards and three touchdowns and looked outstanding in the pocket where his presence has become more demonstrative and confident throughout the early-going in the 2013 season in spite of today’s LSU loss.
The loss is a tough setback for Mettenberger and the Tigers who have a tough road ahead in coming weeks with a road trip to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Hattiesberg book-ended by a return home to the Swamp to take on the confounding Florida Gators in a couple of Saturdays. If the Tigers are to get back into the SEC mix, the impetus to do so will be squarely on Zach Mettenberger’s shoulders, who showed with his performance today that it’s a load he’ll be able to bear.
On the flipside, the Georgia Bulldogs have some control back over their own destiny, nationally in terms of the BCS race but also in the SEC, even in spite of the early-season loss to the Clemson Tigers. Aaron Murray’s Heisman Trophy campaign should be back in full swing after his showing of first-class leadership today in Athens, even if his stats aren’t nearly as flashy as his compadres who are also in the race.
Murray’s a leader, plain and simple, who will be one of the first quarterbacks to come off the board in the 2014 NFL Draft and has the chance now, possibly, to get the Bulldogs right back into the National Championship mix if they can hold par and win the games they should on a schedule that isn’t nearly as difficult as some of the others their conference foes are facing.
No matter how you cut it, these were two NFL quarterbacks on display today in collegiate colors. While the short-term may be more dim for Zach Mettenberger than for Aaron Murray, their longer-term futures are equally as bright.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer and Business Analyst for Rant Sports.